Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Daniel Penalva » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:10 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:56 pm
More specific, maybe. The standard explanation of dissonance is that it is caused by beating between two frequencies. If you search for just intonation lissajous on YT you will find an explanation of beating and some demonstrations.
I don't really understand this. I wouldn't call a 10th dissonant but I think you have to let the ear judge how much the notes clash. I wouldn't say that they do in the case of a 10th or a perfect 12th, although the 10th has more personality. A diminished 12th definitely clashes. This is more or less in line with how much the intervals in question beat, which is what makes the beating theory plausible. The trouble is that a diminished 12th in a low register beats less than (say) a minor third in a high register, but is more dissonant, so beating can't be the whole story.
Iam physiscist, and i found very satisfactory your explanation, though the explanation for diminished 12th beat less can be related to the harmonics forming each note of the accord, only two frequencies very near to each other generates beating.
Rasputin wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:56 pm
The 'must resolve' thing is interesting because not all dissonance produces a need to resolve, at least not in all contexts. Some dissonance adds colour while some adds impetus. This is obviously important in music but is not very well explained.
To me that's one more thing that makes attractive an aesthetic of dissonance, even in periods where composers seems not to be looking at this.

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Rasputin » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:41 pm

Daniel Penalva wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:10 pm
Iam physiscist, and i found very satisfactory your explanation, though the explanation for diminished 12th beat less can be related to the harmonics forming each note of the accord, only two frequencies very near to each other generates beating.
The second harmonic of the lower note is a semitone away from the fundamental of the higher note - is that what you mean? As you'll know, how many Hz apart these are will depend on whether we are talking about a low diminished 12th or a high one.

In a few cases, musical properties seem to be attached to things based on the auditory properties of an archetypal example (here, the interval of a diminished 12th in a particular octave... or perhaps that shoud be the interval of a diminished 5th) then extended to other cases which we understand as equivalent because of musical principles like octave equivalence, even though those cases do not have the auditory properties in question (here, a particular beating signature).

Distorted guitar tones will beat a lot more than clean tones, which may be why you don't find many complex chords in heavy metal music. You do find quite a few diminished fifths though. It seems to be regarded as idiot music on here a lot of the time but I don't see it that way at all. It doesn't make me freak out or run for psychoanalysis... it's just exhilharating :casque:

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Daniel Penalva » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:51 pm

Yes that is it.
So what we call dissonance depends on exactness of scordatura and the how much high is the octave.

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Contreras » Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:33 am

Luis_Br wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:25 pm

I think the absence of the consonance and dissonance dualism is the reason a lot of people do not enjoy too much contemporary music (atonal, serialism etc.).
Amen to that
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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Daniel Penalva » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:20 am

Contreras wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:33 am
Luis_Br wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:25 pm
I think the absence of the consonance and dissonance dualism is the reason a lot of people do not enjoy too much contemporary music (atonal, serialism etc.).
Amen to that
Modalism does not use dissonance/consonance dualism ? In the case of the so called concrete music i totally agree

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Francisco » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:50 am

I found a place where people attempted to answer the question "Are octaves, fifths, fourths and thirds considered as “consonant” in all music cultures?"

And in reading some of the answers it would appear there is no agreement what-so-ever about what constitutes consonance and dissonance. Not only among different cultures, but even within the same person at different stages of her life (or maybe even at different moods within the same day). It would appear that the octave is almost universally considered consonant. Beyond that, everything is up for grabs. From that site I paste here the following quotes from James Tenney's book on the history of consonance and dissonance, quotes which I found particularly interesting:
---------------
https://music.stackexchange.com/questio ... ll-music-c
A very interesting text is A History of 'Consonance' and 'Dissonance' by James Tenney. He goes through many eras to analyze what was going on with dissonances and consonances.

There he quotes Paul Hindemith:

The two concepts [consonance and dissonance] have never been completely explained, and for a thousand years the definitions have varied. At first thirds were dissonant; later they became consonant. A distinction was made between perfect and imperfect consonances. The wide use of seventh-chords has made the major second and the minor seventh almost consonant to our ears. The situation of the fourth has never been cleared up. Theorists, basing their reasoning on acoustical phenomena, have repeatedly come to conclusions wholly at variance with those of practical musician.

The whole text answers your question, so I really recommend you to give it a read. Some examples:

Pre-polyphonic era:

In most pre-9th-century theoretical sources, the cognates of consonance and dissonance-or of related words like concord and discord, symphony and diaphony, and even our more general term harmony-refer neither to the sonorous qualities of simultaneous tones nor to their functional characteristics in a musical context but rather to some more abstract (and yet perhaps more basic) sense of relatedness between sounds which-though it might determine in certain ways their effects in a piece of music-is logically antecedent to these effects.

The contrapuntal and figured-bass periods, ca. 1300-1700:

The new system of interval-classification which emerged in theoretical writings sometime during the 14th century differs from those of the 13th century in several ways, but the most striking of these differences is that the number of consonance/dissonance categories has been reduced from five or six to just three- "perfect consonances," "imperfect consonances," and "dissonances." Both the major and the minor sixth (as well as the thirds) are now accepted as consonances (albeit "imperfect" ones), the fifth has been elevated from an intermediate to a perfect consonance whereas the fourth has become a special kind of dissonance (or rather, a hlghly qualified consonance). All of the other intervals-if allowed at all in the music-are simply called "dissonances."

Norman Cazden dives into this subject in many occasions, including the text Musical Consonance and Dissonance: A Cultural Criterion, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 3-11. (paywall, but you can read online for free if you register)

He mentions:

In the musical system of ancient Greece, there were no "imperfect" consonances. Major and minor thirds and sixths were considered dissonant. The fourth was the basic consonance for the formation of modes and systems of tetrachords.

(...) Resolution is a criterion that has no application to the pentatonic scales. That is one reason why, to our perceptions, Chinese music sounds so inconclusive, so lacking in tendency and definition. The acoustically "perfect" consonances are the rule in some musics, but are not inevitable foundations, for nothing close to the ratio 3:2 is found in certain Javanese and Siamese scales. Intervals which bear no resemblance to any in our diatonic system form melodies which to their users seem "instinctive" and self-evidently natural. (…) In the Icelandic "Tvisöngvar" the third appears to be treated as dissonance.

He proposes that the perception of dissonance and consonance is not entirely based in ratios, harmonics, acoustics, etc; the perception can be trained, influenced.

The natural phenomena of vibratory wave-motions and their reception by the ear may be seen as limiting, rather than as a determining, factor in the perception of consonance and dissonance.

Studies of the psychology of musical perception have produced important negative results regarding consonance and dissonance. The naive view that by some occult process mathematical ratios are consciously transferred to musical perception has been rejected. Fusion, or "unitariness of tonal impression" has been found to produce no fixed order of preference for intervals, with the remarkable exception of the octave. It has been discovered that individual judgments of consonance can be enormously modified by training. Perceptions of consonance by adult standards do not seem generally valid for children bellow the age of twelve or thirteen, a strong indication that they are learned responses.

He suggests that the social factor is much more important.

In musical harmony the critical determinant of consonance or dissonance is the expectation of movement. This is defined as the relation of resolution. A consonant interval is one which sounds stable and complete in itself, which does not produce a feeling of necessary movement to other tones. A dissonant interval causes a restless expectation, or movement or movement to a consonant interval. Pleasantness or disagreeableness of the interval is not directly involved. The context is the determining factor.

For the resolution of intervals does not have a natural basis; it is a common response acquired by all individuals within a culture-area. It becomes evident that the science of music is not primarily a natural science. It is a social science devoted to the properties of a musical system or language belonging to a specific culture-area and a certain stage of historical development.

Due to the tonality relation, probably the most powerful systemic structure in our musical culture of the past few centuries, the most familiar consonant harmonies may act as dissonances. The C major triad is a dissonance in the key of F; as the dominant harmony, it requires resolution to the tonic. The requirement is a psychological imperative resulting from our conditioning; it has no basis on the nature of tone.

The origin of the minor mode and the minor triad in the overtone series has puzzled theorists for centuries. The ratios involved are, to say the least, rather more complicated than those of many "dissonances". (…) The minor harmony is accepted as frankly consonant, and as fundamentally so as the major.

The tempered major third, which is acoustically most badly out of tune, functions as the basic consonance in our system harmony. Where untempered intervals are possible (..) the skillful musician will produce thirds still more out of tune, in order to emphasize the major-minor contrast.

Perception and preference changes, varies.

During the 11th century, apparently, the preference for the fourth gave way to an increasing and almost exclusive use of fifths and octaves. In the period when our modern musical system came into existence, with its dependence on tonality and the major and minor modes, thirds and sixths became consonances and fourths dissonances, the full triad replaced the empty neutrals, and the functional value of resolution crystalized.

He has some interesting things to say about octaves, fifths, and fourths.

Octave and perfect fifth are noncommittal in respect to resolution tendencies, they are not in reality consonances within the meaning of harmonic relations.

Another "perfect consonance", the fourth, is actually a dissonance in musical practice; and what is worse, not consistently so.

More on this:

Moran, H., & Pratt, C.C. (1926). Variability of judgments of musical intervals. Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol. 9, pp. 492-500.

Lundin, R.W. (1947). Toward a cultural theory of consonance. Journal of Psychology, Vol. 23, pp. 45-49.

Guernsey, M. (1928). The role of consonance and dissonance in music. American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 40, pp. 173-204.

Cazden, N. (1960). Sensory theories of musical consonance. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 301-319.

Consonance and Dissonance - Effect of Culture, Ohio State University School of Music

Musical chord preference: cultural or universal? Data from a native Amazonian society.
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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by rojarosguitar » Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:56 am

'Dissonance' and 'Consonance' are just words with historically changing meaning. What once was considered 'Dissonance' is not today and may be again in some other time, as well as in different culture. In Gamelan music there is barely anything a European would consider 'Consonance', but you can't say it's not music.
Apart from these two words, there are so many other categories that contribute to music, you can't exhaust that in language, but to name a few: sound and stillness, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, phrasing...
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Contreras » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:04 am

Daniel Penalva wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:20 am
Contreras wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:33 am
Luis_Br wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:25 pm
I think the absence of the consonance and dissonance dualism is the reason a lot of people do not enjoy too much contemporary music (atonal, serialism etc.).
Amen to that
Modalism does not use dissonance/consonance dualism ? In the case of the so called concrete music i totally agree
Concrete music ... Is that the kind that sinks without a trace? :D
Put down the bagpipes ...
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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Rasputin » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:52 am

Daniel Penalva wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:51 pm
Yes that is it.
So what we call dissonance depends on exactness of scordatura and the how much high is the octave.
I wouldn't say that - beating depends on this (I think - not totally sure what you mean by scordatura) but while beating is related to dissonance, they are not the same. What I was trying to say above was that they can't be the same because one is an auditory phenomenon while one is a musical one. I like the Hindemith quote that Francisco found:
Francisco wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:50 am
There he quotes Paul Hindemith:

The two concepts [consonance and dissonance] have never been completely explained, and for a thousand years the definitions have varied. At first thirds were dissonant; later they became consonant. A distinction was made between perfect and imperfect consonances. The wide use of seventh-chords has made the major second and the minor seventh almost consonant to our ears. The situation of the fourth has never been cleared up. Theorists, basing their reasoning on acoustical phenomena, have repeatedly come to conclusions wholly at variance with those of practical musician.
It's not that acoustical phenomena are irrelevant, just that there are mediating concepts between that and what we label dissonance, so we need to understand both the acoustic phenomena and the mediating concepts. In the process we may find that dissonance is not really a very useful label.
Francisco wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:50 am
I found a place where people attempted to answer the question "Are octaves, fifths, fourths and thirds considered as “consonant” in all music cultures?"

And in reading some of the answers it would appear there is no agreement what-so-ever about what constitutes consonance and dissonance. Not only among different cultures, but even within the same person at different stages of her life (or maybe even at different moods within the same day). It would appear that the octave is almost universally considered consonant. Beyond that, everything is up for grabs.
I'm sure that's true, although I think there are a few buts. You might say that there is a spectrum of consonance and dissonance and that trying to divide notes into just two categories - or even four or five categories - is going to involve drawing some arbitrary lines along that spectrum. When an interval once regarded as dissonant comes to be regarded as consonant, it could be because it has moved within the spectrum, or it could be that the lines have been moved while the note has stayed in the same place. My dad thinks that a dish is hot if it has been within a mile of a chilli. Is it hotter to him that it is to me, or is it a case of same spectrum, different boundaries? Same for rich / poor, tall / short, etc.

I'm not sure that consonance / dissonance is a spectrum in quite this sense, because that would suggest it was a single variable that could be represented by a position on a straight line, whereas actually I think it is multi-dimensional. The principle still holds though, and I think it's the key to understanding how nature and nurture interact. You can see how academics will seize on the observation that what is regarded as dissonant depends on culture and experience and say it shows that there is no basis for it in nature, but that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater and allowing politics into what should be a scientific enquiry (can that ever be avoided?).

The problem of the fourth is really not that difficult if you consider that a chord in second inversion is really the chord which has the bass note as its root. The upper notes are therefore out of place by musical logic, even if they are fine by acoustical logic. When we respond musically we may say it is dissonant, but when we investigate acoustically we don't really find any dissonance... well, that figures.

I'm not sure dissonance is really the right word for that case anyway. I think it is used to cover a number of distinct phenomena and that this is bound to complicate things. If more effort went into looking for the principles that relate judgments of consonance and dissonance to the acoustical facts, the individual phenomena might become apparent.

Tenney's observation that:
close to the ratio 3:2 is found in certain Javanese and Siamese scales. Intervals which bear no resemblance to any in our diatonic system form melodies which to their users seem "instinctive" and self-evidently natural.
Is very interesting and I will chase it up. I have a hunch there will be no footnote and it really is that vague.

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Daniel Penalva » Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:19 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:52 am
Daniel Penalva wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:51 pm
Yes that is it.
So what we call dissonance depends on exactness of scordatura and the how much high is the octave.
I wouldn't say that - beating depends on this (I think - not totally sure what you mean by scordatura)
Scordatura equals and points to the tension that asserts some frequence to the string and to the tempered tuning.
Rasputin wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:52 am
I like the Hindemith quote that Francisco found:
Francisco wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:50 am
There he quotes Paul Hindemith:
The two concepts [consonance and dissonance] have never been completely explained, and for a thousand years the definitions have varied. At first thirds were dissonant; later they became consonant. A distinction was made between perfect and imperfect consonances. The wide use of seventh-chords has made the major second and the minor seventh almost consonant to our ears. The situation of the fourth has never been cleared up. Theorists, basing their reasoning on acoustical phenomena, have repeatedly come to conclusions wholly at variance with those of practical musician.
It's not that acoustical phenomena are irrelevant, just that there are mediating concepts between that and what we label dissonance, so we need to understand both the acoustic phenomena and the mediating concepts. In the process we may find that dissonance is not really a very useful label.
Dissonance is like Subjetivity concept, no one really accepts it as a real concept, nonetheless you can use it in diverse forms, all of them can ben proved through genealogy of the concept, so the cultural component arises (thats really a way of thinking that was born in XX century with industry).
To conclude, i dont think dissonance is not apropriated concept but within some aesthetical theory, gaining from scientific auditory information, it may prove be really useful and, maybe, even related somehow with others period of music history.
Rasputin wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:52 am
Francisco wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:50 am
I found a place where people attempted to answer the question "Are octaves, fifths, fourths and thirds considered as “consonant” in all music cultures?"
The problem to think in such big set "all music cultures" to me is that you are blurring the difference between art and folklore, which feed eachother (usually in direction folklore -> art), but there is a clear distinction. There is no boundaries to folklore while art always almost, in some sense, academically developing itself. To me only within such isolation you can mature unique concept for consonance/dissonance (even if there is one form of art for each culture, what is not true, not all cultures develops or sense the needs to develop art).

Curious about if there is some analogue of dissonance concept to rythm.

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Rasputin » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:22 pm

Daniel Penalva wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:19 pm
Curious about if there is some analogue of dissonance concept to rythm.
A cross rhythm with an irrational ratio? The beats would never coincide. Obviously not a feature of everyday music though.

Syncopation does involve a clash between rhythmic elements, but they belong to different dimensions of rhythm, i.e. meter and stress (there's probably a better word than stress, but I can't think of it just now), so I don't think that counts.

Since I'm not sure the dissonance concept is very helpful even in its natural domain of harmony, I for one wouldn't be keen on extending it to rhythm.

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Daniel Penalva » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:41 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:22 pm
Daniel Penalva wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:19 pm
Curious about if there is some analogue of dissonance concept to rythm.
Syncopation does involve a clash between rhythmic elements, but they belong to different dimensions of rhythm, i.e. meter and stress (there's probably a better word than stress, but I can't think of it just now), so I don't think that counts.
But iam pretty sure that cultural character of Syncopation and dissonance or some consonances are mutual. In a way that you can have one because of rythm and the other emulated but not fully accomplished due to harmony. This analysis of stevel may be one example, but i still dont understand what he is saying:
stevel wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:20 pm
Some authors use the term Appoggiaura (App. henceforth) for ANY accented dissonance that's not one specific type (the Suspension, or Syncope Dissonance). That agrees with the historical use, but, that basically means it means the same thing as Essential...

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Rasputin » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:33 pm

Ah, maybe you're saying that harmonic dissonance can have a rhythmic aspect, not that there is such a thing as rhythmic dissonance that has nothing to do with harmony. If so I'm sure that is right.

I think what stevel was saying there (I see it was in a different thread) was really about terminology - some theorists will call any accented dissonance other than a suspension an appoggiatura, while others define it more narrowly. I don't think that matters for the purposes of this thread. On the other hand, the reason we need these terms in the first place is that it makes a difference whether a dissonant tone is on or off the beat. Whether it is right to say that it is more dissonant when it is on the beat, I'm not sure - this goes back to the point that "dissonance" is being used to describe several different phenomena, and I am not convinced that this is a good idea. If we want to say it is more dissonant when it is on the beat, it shows again that dissonance is not an acoustic property.

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by Daniel Penalva » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:45 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:33 pm
Ah, maybe you're saying that harmonic dissonance can have a rhythmic aspect, not that there is such a thing as rhythmic dissonance that has nothing to do with harmony. If so I'm sure that is right.
Not only dissonance but some consonances can have rythmic aspect, i made this point after seeing the substitution in rythmic cell of samba e choro 16-8-16 to 8-16-16 very frequently between euro musicians. A friend, composer, also said that is a important dual aspect of harmony-rythm to him.

Still gotcha to understand analysis, studying theory and its heavy :chaud: :mrgreen:

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Re: Music is made up of consonance and dissonance

Post by llch » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:57 am

To ask something that may be on the simpler aspect - could it be what used to be less traditional is now more common, say a dimished 6 chord would be less common in baroque period and after getting our ears used to it, it's now a perfectly accepted consonance?

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